AMU Intelligence

Global Security Brief: 4-23-08

A daily, open source, around the world tour of international security-related news.
By Professor Joseph B. Varner

Global War on Terror
Al Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, criticized Muslims for failing to support Islamist insurgencies in Iraq and elsewhere in a new audiotape posted Tuesday on the Internet. Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenant also blasted Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas over their reported readiness to consider a peace deal with Israel. He also used the two-and-a-half hour message to urge Muslims to join militant groups, mainly in Iraq, where he claimed that the insurgency against the Iraqi government and the United States-led coalition forces is bearing fruit. “I urge all Muslims to hurry to the battlefields of Jihad (holy war), especially in Iraq,” Zawahiri said in the message, the second in a two-part series to answer about 100 questions put to him via online militant forums. In his message, Zawahiri also called on the various jihadist groups operating in the country to unite behind the “more advanced” Al Qaeda-backed “Islamic State of Iraq”. In the first part of the message released last Friday, Zawahiri commemorated the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with a call to Muslims to make Iraq a “fortress of Islam.” (Source:

A spate of suicide bombings and other attacks on security forces in southern Afghanistan Wednesday left 13 people dead and 24 others wounded. In Kandahar province, a suicide bomber blew himself up next to a vehicle carrying intelligence agents in the border town of Spin Boldak, killing three civilians. Two children and three intelligence agents were among the 14 hurt. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said the insurgent group was behind the attack and identified the bomber as a man named Gul Mohammad. (Source: AP)

In neighboring Helmand province, a suicide bomber struck a police convoy, killing two officers and wounding three, said district Police Chief Khairudin Shuhja. Shuhja was in the convoy but was not injured in the attack. (Source: AP)

In eastern Kunar province, Taliban militants attacked a police border post, killing five officers and wounding seven others. (Source: AP)

Separately, a border police patrol in northwestern Badghis province hit a mine, killing three officers riding in the vehicle. (Source: AP)

Kazakh police have detained a man wanted in neighboring Uzbekistan on suspicion of taking part in a riot in the Uzbek town of Andizhan in 2005, a Kazakh police spokesman said on Wednesday. The West condemned Uzbekistan in May 2005 for its handling of the Andizhan events where witnesses said hundreds of people were killed when state troops opened fire on unarmed protesters. Uzbekistan blamed the violence on Islamist rebels. On Wednesday, Kazakh police said the Uzbek man, detained on Sunday in the Kazakh financial capital Almaty during a raid on his apartment, is accused at home of taking part in acts of terror and attacking law enforcement agents in Andizhan. (Source: Reuters)

The United Nations has reduced its presence in Yemen due to the increased profile of Al Qaeda. Officials said the UN closed several offices in Yemen in April in wake of attacks on a Western compound in Sanaa. They said the UN also placed walls of concrete around its headquarters in Sanaa to prevent rocket strikes. On March 20, Al Qaeda fired three mortars toward the U.S. embassy in Sanaa. The mortars missed the embassy and struck a girls’ high school. Two people were killed. (Source: World Tribune)

The Danish Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that it has evacuated its staff from embassies in Algeria and Afghanistan because of threats after newspapers reprinted a cartoon depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Embassy employees have been moved to secret locations in both countries’ capitals but continue to work. The announcement comes after Danish intelligence officials warned of an “aggravated” terror threat against Denmark since newspapers in the country in February of a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The warning specifically singled out North Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Source: AP)

The United States government is scrapping a $20 million prototype of its highly touted “virtual fence” on the Arizona-Mexico border because the system is failing to adequately alert border patrol agents to illegal crossings. (Source: AP)

Civilian casualties reportedly mounted Wednesday as clashes between Shiite gunmen and U.S. and Iraqi troops spread to Baghdad’s outskirts. Police said two women were among seven people killed in fighting overnight. Fierce fighting broke out during a military operation late Tuesday in Husseiniyah, a mainly Shiite area that sits to the north of Baghdad’s embattled Sadr City district. U.S. and Iraqi troops were backed by helicopters as they fought until Wednesday morning with suspected Shiite militiamen who dominate the area, police said. Women and children were among 20 people wounded. Police and hospital officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information, also said eight civilians were killed and 44 others wounded in fighting in Sadr City, a sprawling district in northeastern Baghdad. U.S. soldiers responded after they were attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire, killing 12 “criminals” in three separate incidents Tuesday in eastern Baghdad. (Source: AP)

The U.S. military said Wednesday that 15 suspected militants were killed in separate attacks a day earlier in mainly Shiite areas. (Source: AP)

A man planting a roadside bomb in northeastern Baghdad also was shot to death by American soldiers in northeastern Baghdad, while two others spotted with a mortar tube were killed in an airstrike. (Source: AP)

Two U.S. Marines and an Iraqi civilian also were killed when a bomb-rigged water tanker truck exploded at a checkpoint near the western city of Ramadi on Tuesday in another apparent strike by Al Qaeda in Iraq in one of its former strongholds. (Source: AP)

The killings underscored the threat still posed by Sunni insurgent groups even as public attention has focused on the month-old campaign by American and Iraqi troops against Shiite militias. Al Qaeda in Iraq, the homegrown Sunni insurgent group that American officials believe is led by foreigners, asserted responsibility for the attack in a statement that was posted an hour later at a local high school. It said the group has prepared “an army of suicide bombers” who will “target the centers of infidelity and apostasy” in the city. (Source: The Washington Post)

The U.S. military raised the death toll in Tuesday’s female suicide bombing in Diyala province to 18 including 10 Iraqi civilians, a Kurd and seven Iraqi policemen. It also said two Iraqi policemen were wounded. It was the second suicide attack by a woman in as many days in Diyala, a flashpoint in the battle against Al Qaeda. A young woman blew herself up Monday at the headquarters of a group of U.S.-allied Sunni fighters, killing three people and wounding three others. Last weekend, Al Qaeda announced a one-month offensive against U.S. troops and Sunnis who have joined forces with Americans. (Source: AP)

The United States
It was reported that although NASA is concerned about last weekend’s rough, off-target landing of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts, an agency official expressed confidence on Tuesday that the Russians would solve the problem. The Soyuz capsule, carrying a crew home from the International Space Station, made a steeper-than-normal re-entry early Saturday and landed in Kazakhstan about 260 miles short of its target. (Source: The New York Times)

UN officials have warned that the conflict in Darfur is deteriorating, with full deployment of a new peacekeeping force delayed until 2009 and no prospect of a political settlement for a war that has killed perhaps 300,000 people in five years. (Source: AP)

UN Security Council members have agreed that Eritrea’s treatment of UN peacekeepers on its disputed border with Ethiopia is “unacceptable,” but the council needs more time to deliberate on the matter. The Eritreans have obstructed UN peacekeeping efforts for the past 1 1/2 years with its military occupation of part of a buffer zone and restrictions on UN night patrols, supply routes and diesel fuel. Tensions between Eritrea and Ethiopia remain high because of Ethiopia’s refusal to accept a 2002 ruling by an independent boundary commission on the border demarcation between the two countries, which awarded the key town of Badme to Eritrea. Eritrea and Ethiopia have been feuding over their border since Eritrea gained independence from the Addis Ababa government in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war. A 1,700-strong UN force has been monitoring a 15-mile wide, 620-mile long buffer zone between the Horn of Africa neighbors under a December 2000 peace agreement that ended a 2 1/2-year border war. (Source: AP)

The first results from an election recount under way reportedly show President Robert Mugabe’s party has won an additional parliamentary seat, state media reported Wednesday. Election officials began recounting ballots in 23 districts over the weekend, most of them won by the opposition. The recount could prove pivotal for the ruling party, which lost control of parliament by a handful of seats for the first time ever. The state-run Herald newspaper also suggested Wednesday that a government of national unity led by Mugabe could end Zimbabwe’s deepening political and economic crisis, in a major departure from its regular stance of accusing the opposition of manipulating the vote.

The proposal in a newspaper considered a government mouthpiece comes as the U.S. top diplomat for Africa heads to southern Africa for talks with regional leaders on Zimbabwe’s postelection crisis. Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer headed to South Africa on Wednesday and also is to visit Angola and Zambia for talks on Zimbabwe. No presidential results have been released from the March 29 election, and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s party insists it won outright. The Movement for Democratic Change has called the government’s refusal to release the results part of a ploy to steal the vote. (Source: AP)

Zimbabwe’s regime got a taste of the international isolation critics say it deserves, with its neighbors blocking a shipment of Chinese arms to prevent them from being used against Robert Mugabe’s opponents. China said Tuesday the weapons might be returned home. Union, church and human rights leaders across southern Africa rallied against allowing the Chinese freighter An Yue Jiang to dock at ports in any of landlocked Zimbabwe’s neighbors, and they were bolstered by behind-the-scenes pressure from the United States. (Source: AP)

A Nigerian court will decide next week whether authorities can try a rebel leader from the oil-producing Niger Delta in secret. The decision to try Henry Okah in secret has angered militants of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), who have launched a series of attacks in recent days. Lawyers defending Okah filed a motion on Tuesday at the Federal High Court in the central city of Jos, challenging the order for a secret trial. Okah, who was arrested in Angola last September and handed over to Nigeria in February, has been charged with treason and gun-running and stands accused of conspiring to wage war on Nigeria. He faces the death penalty if convicted. (Source: Reuters)

A close political ally of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe wanted for allegedly backing illegal militias surrendered to police Tuesday night after Costa Rica denied him political asylum. Colombia’s chief prosecutor had ordered the arrest of former Senator Mario Uribe, President Uribe’s second cousin, earlier Tuesday on charges of criminal conspiracy for “agreements to promote illegal armed groups.” The former senator had immediately entered the Costa Rican embassy in Bogota to seek asylum but was denied. (Source: AP)

A top associate of leftist guerrillas in Colombia who assisted in the procurement of weapons, ammunition and cash in exchange for cocaine and cocaine paste has been extradited to the United States to stand trial on conspiracy charges. Juan Jose Martinez Vega, also known as “Chiguiro,” was returned to New York this week as part of a massive crackdown led by the U.S. federal agents on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Fifty of the organization’s top leaders were targeted in a federal grand jury indictment. (Source: The Washington Times)

South Korea’s Foreign Minister said on Wednesday that a team of U.S. officials visiting North Korea was trying to resolve a deadlock in international nuclear disarmament talks.
The U.S. delegation led by Sung Kim, the top State Department expert on the Koreas traveled on Tuesday to the communist nation to press for a list of nuclear programs the North had promised to deliver by the end of last year. (Source: AP)

European business officials warned Wednesday that calls in China for a boycott of French products since the raucous Olympic torch relay in Paris could spark a backlash against Chinese exports. (Source: AP)

The USS Kitty Hawk was scheduled to make a port call in Hong Kong this weekend, five months after being turned away by China, a U.S. Consulate General spokesman said Wednesday. (Source: AP)

Cambodia’s genocide tribunal abruptly adjourned a pretrial hearing for the former President of the Khmer Rouge after his French attorney erupted at judges because the case file had not been translated into French. Jacques Verges, one of the lawyers representing Khieu Samphan, 76, in his appeal against pretrial detention, has earned notoriety with a client list that includes Nazi Gestapo officer Klaus Barbie, Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and confessed serial killer Charles Sobhraj. (Source: AP)

At least 52 guerrillas and 38 soldiers were killed and hundreds more wounded Wednesday, officials said, as Tamil separatists reported repulsing a Sri Lankan offensive ahead of key local elections. (Source: AFP)

Nepal’s Maoists were reportedly pushing Wednesday to build a coalition government with rivals following the upset victory by the former rebels in landmark elections, with vote counting nearing completion. (Source: AFP)

Middle East
U.S. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice said Tuesday that former President Carter’s recent talks with the Palestinian group Hamas had not been helpful. Rice said “We counseled President Carter against going to the region and particularly against having contacts with Hamas,” adding that the administration had “wanted to make sure there would be no confusion and there would be no sense that Hamas was somehow a party to peace negotiations.” (Source: The New York Times)

The Hamas regime has continued its crackdown on the opposition Fatah movement.
Palestinian sources said Hamas has increased restrictions on Fatah in the Gaza Strip. The sources said Hamas has banned demonstrations as well as Fatah publications and news coverage. On April 18, Hamas police prevented a Fatah protest in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said police officers beat demonstrators and fired into the air. The human rights group said the Fatah protest, called to commemorate Palestinians detained by Israel, had been peaceful. (Source: World Tribune)

Palestinians in Gaza on Tuesday fired three rockets at Israel, one of which slammed directly into a home in Sderot, causing a number of residents to suffer shock. Another rocket struck an open area and caused a fire. A further rocket hit Ashkelon’s industrial district. (Source: Ha’aretz)

The Nahal Oz fuel terminal reopened Wednesday some two weeks after a Palestinian terror attack left two Israelis dead. For the time being, only diesel fuel for Gaza’s power station will be transferred. The terminal was partially opened last week for the transfer of diesel and heating gas, but Palestinian gunmen fired at the tankers. (Source: Ynet News)

In a postscript to a two-decade-old spy scandal, the FBI on Tuesday arrested an 84-year-old former U.S. Army civilian engineer and charged him with providing classified defense documents to Israel. The alleged crimes that led to the arrest of Ben-Ami Kadish took place between 1979 and 1985, when Kadish, a U.S. citizen, worked at the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. According to court documents unsealed Tuesday, Kadish’s alleged handler turns out to be the same Israeli consular official in New York who allegedly served as a “control” agent for Jonathan Pollard, the former Navy intelligence analyst arrested in 1985 and convicted the next year whose case cast a cloud over U.S.-Israeli relations for years. Kadish told the FBI that he did not operate after 1985. A senior U.S. intelligence official said Kadish’s alleged activities were first discovered within the last few years, more than 20 years after they occurred, as a result of super secret intelligence monitoring related to ongoing inquiries about the Pollard case. (Source: Newsweek)

Western and Palestinian diplomats said Tuesday that a planned follow-up to November’s Middle East peace conference in Annapolis will likely be postponed or even canceled because of Mahmoud Abbas’ reluctance to take part. Abbas, who meets with President Bush at the White House on Thursday, is doubtful that anything of value would be accomplished at the conference, set to take place in Moscow in June. An Israeli official noted that his country always prefers to “sit down with the other party,” rather than get distracted by more international events. Israel also is opposed to Russia’s plan to put Israeli-Syrian issues, such as the Golan Heights, on the conference agenda. (Source: The Washington Times)

Meanwhile, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Robert Danin “will be head of mission” for the Jerusalem-based office of Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday. Blair represents the Quartet of major players in the Middle East peace process, who will next meet on May 2 in London. (Source: AFP)

Iranian President Ahmadinejad reportedly has fired off a letter to Parliament Speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel on Tuesday, furiously denouncing him for bypassing the Presidency by giving the order to implement legislation. Meanwhile, the heads of two powerful judiciary bodies lambasted Ahmadinejad for accusing his opponents in a speech last week of forming an economic and political mafia. Ahmadinejad has also been under fire from leading clerics for his economic policies. The public arguments come ahead of the second round of parliamentary elections on Friday. (Source: AFP/Nasdaq)

The seizure of 1,150 kilograms of nuclear-grade graphite in Mumbai on the eve of its export by air to Iran has demonstrated beyond all doubt where India stands in respect of Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapon capability. An alert customs officer in Mumbai became suspicious of an export consignment by Nickunj Eximp Enterprises of 1,150 kilograms of graphite to Ward Commercial Company in Tehran. Bhabha Atomic Research Center experts, who were asked to take samples, confirmed that it was nuclear-grade graphite. One more consignment of graphite of Nickunj Eximp headed for Dubai was stopped. The graphite was imported by local dealers at Rs 50 per kilograms from China and was being exported to Iran at Rs 2,000 a kilogram. (Source: Daijiworld-India)

Azerbaijan halted a Russian shipment of equipment intended for Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, demanding more information for fear of violating UN sanctions, officials said Monday. The Russian state-run company Atomstroiexport said trucks carrying the equipment were stopped two weeks ago in Astara, on the Azerbaijani-Iranian border. (Source: AP)

The UN nuclear monitoring agency on Wednesday announced what it called a “milestone” agreement with Iran that aims to provide answers about allegations that Tehran tried to develop nuclear weapons. International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said IAEA Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen and his team had agreed with Iran to start a process aiming to clarify the issue in May. (Source: AP)

The Pakistani crew members of a hijacked, Dubai-flagged ship said on Wednesday they were lucky to be alive after being tricked and captured by Somali pirates, then rescued in a shootout at sea. (Source: AFP)

Joe Varner is Assistant Professor and Program Manager for Homeland Security at American Military University.

Comments are closed.